It was the evening time but still there was lot of time for the darkness to spread. The atmosphere was very pleasant. Those who wanted to go for an evening stroll were slowly coming out of their houses. Even Priya was riding on her bicycle through the road. While riding the bicycle her hairs, styled as bob-cut, were flying on her forehead, and her manner of removing them back from there using one hand while riding the bicycle was appearing very attractive. Moreover, after every brief spell she was also resetting her skirt blowing up on the air and even that action was quite pleasant. After covering some distance she moved on one edge of the road and stopped it near the compound with a wooden gate on it. After putting the bicycle on its side-stand she locked it first and then approached the gate of that home. All her actions, such as stopping the bicycle and resting it on the side-stand were following some beautiful captivating rhythm. The gate she had approached was of Vijay’s home. While peeping over the gate and opening it, she glanced over the open space in front of the main door to see whether anybody was sitting there. Since it being an evening time she hoped to see somebody from Vijay’s family sitting there in the open space or at least Vijay could be there. Contrary to her expectation of the evening time, the main door too was closed.
Have all the people gone out, Priya thought.
She first opened the gate and stepped inside the open space. Then she glanced here and there since she was coming at Vijay’s home for the first time. Similarly, not a single window of Vijay’s home seem to be open. All the windows were closed from inside. She approached the main door of that house. Fortunately, there was no lock hanging on the door which, Priya was assured, there must be somebody inside the home.
Perhaps, Vijay’s mother must be alone at home or it could also be that Vijay must be alone at home and he must be engrossed in his studies inside his room.
She gave a thought to all this, came near the main door of the house and raised her hand to ring the doorbell. Her arm, raised above to ring the doorbell, came down automatically after realizing there was no switch to ring the bell. Then she was forced to knock on the door and wait for someone to open it. But she could not sense any movement inside the house and therefore she knocked on the door once again. Even then there was absolutely no movement being felt inside the house.
Now she genuinely wondered whether all the family members had gone out. She also felt tempted to go at the backyard of the house to check whether the backdoor was locked since she had, by now, come to know that in order to prevent thefts taking place the people of this town had a regular practice of locking the backdoor from outside while going out.
For a couple of moments, Priya even felt tempted to visit the backyard of the house but she avoided going there because firstly she was coming to that home for the first time and secondly she was not even knowing the exact layout of the backyard of that home.
Finally, she turned back and started going toward the wooden gate of that house but suddenly she heard the noise of the door being opened. Therefore she turned back only to see Vijay standing in the door.
Then Priya said, ‘I thought there is nobody at home?’.
Hoping that he might her call inside his home, she stood near him. But Vijay came out himself and pulled one of the chairs kept in the open space and invited her to sit on the other.
‘Come! Let us sit outside only!’, he said, ‘Sit on that chair!’.
‘I had come to you to borrow your notes of P-1’, Priya said to Vijay, ‘unless you don’t need them now!’.
‘No! I don’t need them immediately for next two-three days!’, Vijay replied, ‘because currently I am studying the M-1 and M-2 whose test is expected tomorrow and the day after. But after three days I will need them back since Prof. Patil’s test is coming immediately thereafter’.
‘I will definitely return it to you within two days’, Priya assured while removing the hairs blowing over her forehead with the wind.
Vijay was secretly watchful of her hairs appearing on her forehead with the flow of the wind and her typical pleasant style of removing them back. Suddenly, one middle-aged woman came there out of the house. She was combing her hairs.
‘Meet my mother’, Vijay introduced Priya to his mother, ‘Mother! This is Priya! My classmate!’.
‘Good evening aunty’, Priya welcomed Vijay’s mother and she in turn gave a smile of acceptance.
‘Whose daughter are you?’, Vijay’s mother affectionately enquired.
Experiencing the warmth in her voice, Priya invariably remembered her mother.
‘My father’s name is Mr. Ulhas Kulkarni’, Priya promptly replied, ‘probably you may not be knowing him because he was located earlier in Mumbai and we have recently shifted here after he was transferred’.
‘Where does your father work?’, Vijay’s mother asked.
‘He is in State Bank!’, Priya replied.
‘Is it? Your father must be knowing him?’, Vijay’s mother said to him.
‘No mother!, Father works far off in the forest department! Her father is in the bank!’, Vijay replied.
‘But he must be going into the bank sometimes!’, Vijay’s mother said.
‘But how can her father be knowing every visitor to the bank?’, Vijay questioned.
‘Yes! Even you are right to say that!’, Vijay’s mother replied.
‘But now probably he may come to know!’, Priya said.
Suddenly, some noise was heard from the kitchen of that house and Vijay’s mother turned back and yelled, ‘Coming! Coming! Baby!’ and she went inside again.
After Vijay’s mother went inside again, for a couple of moments both, Vijay and Priya spent in silence. Perhaps they were thinking what to talk next.
‘Can you give me those notes?’, Priya reminded Vijay.
‘Just a minute!’, Vijay said and he went inside home to get them.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)